It’s that time of year. Summer vacation is in full swing, and it’s time to hit the road — whether you’re a Southern Nevadan traveling to Disneyland or the beach, a Reno driver driving toward the Bay Area, or a rural Nevadan headed for the bright city lights. While you may think of road safety chiefly in the winter months, there are plenty of things to keep in mind during the summer travel season as well. Here are some tips to help you stay safe on the road this summer:
Get a vehicle inspection
First and foremost, before you set off on any significant trip, it’s a very good idea to get a full vehicle inspection. Be sure you’ve had a tune-up, your battery is fully charged, and that you’ve been keeping up with your oil changes and tire rotations. In fact, when it comes to tires, you should make sure they’re properly inflated with the correct tire pressure (even your spare tire), and keep an eye out for worn tread.
Belts should also be checked for damage, and windshield wipers should be in good shape. Don’t forget to check all your fluids (oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid) as well as your headlights (including your high beams), brake lights, turn signals, and hazards.
Use a roadside assistance service
You can save yourself a lot of grief in troublesome situations by enrolling in a roadside assistance program. AAA is probably the best-known, but there’s a good chance your insurance provider also offers an option. This can come in handy if you have any kind of car trouble. If your car stalls, you get a flat tire, or your battery dies, these services can be a life-saver. They can help get you back on the road, or if the trouble is serious enough, tow your car to a nearby mechanic. It’s well worth the annual fee for the peace of mind that comes with it. In terms of safety, when you use such a service, you know your troubles are being handled by professionals, so if you’re not a car person, it’s probably much safer than taking matters into your own hands.
Take an emergency roadside kit with you
Even if you are enrolled in a roadside service program, it’s a very good idea to pack an emergency roadside kit of your own. You’ll definitely want a cell phone so you can call for help if needed, but you should also include a first-aid kit, food and water, any important medications, flares, jumper cables, a jack and tire iron, a flashlight (in case you have trouble in the dark), and a toolset and work gloves in case you need to get your hands dirty under the hood. You may rely on Google or another GPS provider for your navigational needs these days, but in the event of an emergency or a loss of service, you should also keep a good, old-fashioned map handy.
Make sure everyone is buckled in
According to the most recent data shared by the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the first three decades of Americans’ lives, and crashes killed 33,000 people in just one year (while injuring another 2.2 million).1 More than half of those killed were not restrained by seat belts at the time of the crash. The CDC names wearing a seat belt as the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. “Seat belt use is on the rise,” says the CDC website. “Laws, education, and technology have increased seat belt use from 11% in 1981 to nearly 85% in 2010, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Yet, about 1 in 7 people still don’t buckle up.”
Employ common-sense safe driving
You can’t help how other people are driving, but you can be hyper-aware of everyone else on the road and make it a point to pay attention and drive defensively. Avoid the temptation to text or consult your smart phone while driving. Distracted driving now accounts for a large percentage of auto accidents and deaths. Avoid driving while impaired or fatigued, and share the road with your fellow drivers, including those in big rigs and motorcycles. The safer you make the road, the safer everybody on it will be.
Consult the Nevada Department of Transportation website for more information about road safety.2
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.
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